High efficacy and safety of low-dose CD19-directed CAR-T cell therapy in 51 refractory or relapsed B acute lymphoblastic leukemia patients

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Refractory or relapsed B lymphoblastic leukemia (B-ALL) patients have a dismal outcome with current therapy. We treated 42 primary refractory/hematological relapsed (R/R) and 9 refractory minimal residual disease by flow cytometry (FCM-MRD+) B-ALL patients with optimized second generation CD19-directed CAR-T cells. The CAR-T-cell infusion dosages were initially ranged from 0.05 to 14 × 105/kg and were eventually settled at 1 × 105/kg for the most recent 20 cases. 36/40 (90%) evaluated R/R patients achieved complete remission (CR) or CR with incomplete count recovery (CRi), and 9/9 (100%) FCM-MRD+ patients achieved MRD-. All of the most recent 20 patients achieved CR/CRi. Most cases only experienced mild to moderate CRS. 8/51 cases had seizures that were relieved by early intervention. Twenty three of twenty seven CR/CRi patients bridged to allogeneic hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (allo-HCT) remained in MRD- with a median follow-up time of 206 (45-427) days, whereas 9 of 18 CR/CRi patients without allo-HCT relapsed. Our results indicate that a low CAR-T-cell dosage of 1 × 105/kg, is effective and safe for treating refractory or relapsed B-ALL, and subsequent allo-HCT could further reduce the relapse rate.

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